Saturday, 16 July 2016


Dear avid fans.

In one of my recent moments of clarity, it dawned on me that I really don't like people.

Yes, that's right. I am anti social.

Being anti social is not a bad thing, or something that should label you as an individual with any kind of negative stigma.
It is a simple personal choice not to interact with people, that in your opinion have little or nothing of interest to say. People who do not interest you. There is nothing wrong with this. We are all entitled to our own opinions, and also to voice them. I just find most people shallow and uninteresting.

OK, so now you are thinking "that was a big headed statement, I don't know if I like this guy any more". Well, that's your opinion, and your entitled to it. See how this works? You get to think what you like, as do I. And just because my point of view is not the same as yours, it does not make me wrong. It just makes me different.

I have Stimulating conversations with people I find very interesting. Intelligent conversations and debate are what interests me. On subjects that I consider relevant to myself and the world at large. The people in my life who I consider important and are true friends, I can literally count on one hand.  In a world of internet and social media, I find people claim friendship far to easily, when in fact most if not sometimes all, are just acquaintances if the truth be told.

It's almost as if we have become conditioned to assessing a persons intelligence, character and worthiness of friendship, bases on existing social circles and friends lists. The bigger the list or circle, the better they must be, and therefore the more desirable they are to add to your collection of friends. That's all it is, a collection, like badges on a sleeve or status points in a game. Look at me, see my extensive collection of friends, I'm great.

Well, no. Actually, it just makes you shallow.

I value my few friends very highly. As for the rest of the world out there, I am free to choose who I am acquainted with. I avoid unnecessary drama, negativity, self centred behaviour, delusion, and fakery.

So to all out there, when was the last time you sat down and counted your real friends. The ones who make time for you, not just allotted spare time to you when it was convenient for them, or when they stood to gain from it.
They are the ones you count. They are the ones you put yourself out for, even when you gain nothing from it. They are your true friends.
You might be surprised at how few you can count if you are brutally honest about it.

The rest! they are just acquaintances.
If you then take a step further and only give your time and energy to those that made your friends list, you too can be called anti social by the ones you exclude.

It is your time and you get to choose who you spend it with. Give it to those who deserve it and appreciate it.

Nurture the genuine friendships.
Be yourself.
Distance yourself from the parasites.
Live authentically.

It's the antisocial way.

As always, kind regards, Jack.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Things that make me smile.

Dear Avid fans.

A new thread of labels begins today.
With each one, I will add a brief description of the photo and explain why the subject matter makes me smile.

Here is a relatively old photo, taken a few years ago, but one that brings back fond memories of a great trip out with my Good friend Mark. The location was Ullswater  in Cumbria. We wild camped on a ledge above the shore with Basha's, and woke to a beautiful view over the lake.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Another reset point.

Dear avid fans.

For quite some time now, something has been troubling me to the extent that I have been very unhappy.
It has not only affected the quality and content of my posts, but the frequency of them too.

This has however been resolved and I hope to post a little more often from now on. Perhaps even with interesting subject matter.

Anyway, it will no doubt be subject to my daily ability with regards to my brain fuzz level, and also internet connection speeds where video content is concerned.

I am hoping to start my ramblings on outdoors skills, and with a bit of luck might even use video as a reference tool where appropriate.
I am also thinking of regular posts about my thoughts and feelings. This is quite a tricky one, as don't want to infringe on anyone else's privacy, and certainly don't want to aggravate anyone by expressing myself freely. More thought is required on this, I think.
However, the whole point is to be able to express myself freely. To off load the psychological weight that pins down my free thought.

Thanks for staying if you are a fan of old, and welcome to the twilight zone if your new to my blog.

Kind regards, Jack.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


Dear avid fans, if any.

I have so much on my mind, and thoughts churn away in random patterns.
Clarity escapes me, but it's clear I am not happy.

The question I have to ask myself is this. What am I not happy about? Churn, churn, churn.
Where to start?

I have very few friends. This is by choice. I find people for the most part, self absorbed, living in little bubbles of there own reality. Blissfully unaware of what is happening in the real world. Avoiding any glimpse of the realities that might crack there bubble of comfort.
They suck up the opinions and interests they are indoctrinated with by society, the media and piers, without the slightest thought of looking at the world from an honest and unbiased viewpoint.
God forbid that they should actually research anything that they bleat there opinions on. Especially from multiple independent verifiable sources that have no conflict of interest or bias.
Most people irritate the shit out of me for this reason.
Sheeple, in short.
I do have a small handful of genuine friends who's thoughtfully considered opinions interest me and who I respect and value. Even when they differ from mine. 
So it's not the lack of friends.

Is it my location?
I have chosen to live in a remote area, surrounded by nature. It's wonderful here. Quiet, scenic, calming and not only what I need at this point in my life, but what I have desired for so many years.
In short, it's not the location. I belong here.

Is it the living conditions?
Give me warmth when its cold, shelter from the weather, clean water to drink and food to nourish me and I have the essentials of life nailed down.
Add to that, a warm comfy bed to sleep in, comfortable surroundings to live in, bathing and toilet facilities, a way to keep clothes washed and clean, work and entertainment to stimulate my mind.
I require nothing more.
So it's not the conditions.

Perhaps the weather?
No. I like it here. In the hottest months of the summer, shrewd decisions must be made. Work and play must be tailored to the seasonal climate. Likewise in the winter, spring or autumn. It's the natural way to go.

Is it the work load?
Ok so now we are entering a grey area.
I don't feel The work load is to much per se, I knew before undertaking this life here what it would entail and what the work load would be. I do however have feelings of being left to take it all on myself to some extent. Originally it was all planned out with mutual support in mind.
Don't get me wrong. I am not complaining about this, and I am more than happy to do it all. But this changes the plan somewhat and extends the timeframe that was planned for each separate part of the overall plan.
This adds pressure to get it done as was originally planned.
Pressure I can handle though. So. Ultimately  its not the work load.

Is it my health?
Well, since the brain haemorrhage I am far from the same person I was in mental capacity. Memory and logic has taken the most hammer, but on the bright side, I forget that I forget lots of things, so I bimble along at my own pace blissfully unawares that I have forgotten things. Heart condition? I hate all the pills I now have to take, but I am still ticking so I cant complain about that.
I have pain in my neck from where it broke, my ribs hurt when I twist, shoulders, knees, hips, ankles and back ach constantly as do my wrists, all from breaks or years of hammer.
But I am happy with my health for an ex forces forty six year old.
So no, it's not my health.

Is it my age?
Mid life crisis, male menopause, or PTSD rearing its head?
Well, This is an interesting one.
I don't think its a mid life crisis simply because I don't see life the way others do.
Male menopause is out of the question scientifically and I don't get hot flushes.
PTSD? I have learned to live with my demons from the past now.
So no, not my age.

What am I missing here? Why am I unhappy.

The state of the world?
Well it is in a mess, and most people don't see it or the reasons for it.
cognitive dissonance and conformation bias rule the wold apparently.
Most people don't know what's really going on in the world, and the sad part is they don't know that they don't know.
But this isn't what is getting me down.
We are all part of the cosmos.

From the Big Bang came all the atoms elements and particles that make the universe today. What came into existence then is still in existence now, no more no less. Yes things have changed, evolved, metamorphosed into the universe and its contents as we know it now, but essentially, the individual pieces at there base level are still the same.
Stars have been bourn from those pieces, and died, scattering them far and wide, over time turning into other stars and planets. We come from star dust you might say, and along the way parts of us have been plants, birds, fish, rocks, water, and air that ultimately were absorbed and gestated, growing into a foetus and finally the adult humans we are today.
When we die, there is no more conscious thought or awareness. We simply return to the melting pot of elements. We decompose in the soil or go up in smoke. Our atoms continue the journey of life and end up as part of the wind, clouds, oceans, soil, vegetation and rock formations. We are dispersed far and wide. Parts of us may eventually become new stars or nebulous gasses in the universe. Or perhaps we shall forever remain on this little blue dot of ours we call earth, forever in the cycle of the planet. Who knows what the lottery of the universe holds for us. What we have been and what we will become is not for us to know.
We are merely here for a short time in this form, aware of our being. Death holds no fear for me. I don't fear my birth do I so why should I fear my death.
Given preference, I would like to avoid pain and suffering, and I attempt to enjoy my awareness by doing things that please me. But not at the expense of others or the wold that we came from and will return to.
If I have lost you by now, then simply know this.
I despair at the state of the world and all the creatures full of self importance called humans that have spread over it like a plague and seam intent on destroying as much of it as possible. But ultimately it is of no importance. the elements have always been, and will still be long after the human species has burnt its self out, just like all plagues ultimately do. Nature will remain in some new form.

So no. Its not the state of the world or my mortality either.

Is it regrets for past actions or inactions?

Well that's a complicated one.
On the whole, I have no regrets, a bit like Edith Piaf.
My conscious life to this point has made me who I am and brought me to my understanding of life, rightly or wrongly.
If I could do it all again knowing what I know now, I would no doubt do things much differently. But this caveat is not admissible here for I can not turn back the clocks and do it differently with out knowing what I have learned by doing it the way I did. Its a paradigm as old as the universe itself.
Yes, I do have some regrets, but they don't weigh me down and devour my happiness.
During my military service, I did things that I now wish I hadn't, but at the time I was doing them for what I thought was the right reasons. It is only with maturity of wisdom that I realise most of what I did was right but for the wrong reasons, reasons that were fed to us by people with agendas we had no understanding or awareness of.
In my personal life I have also failed on some levels and done things I am not proud of to say the least. But lack of maturity and experience had us all at one time. The main thing is that I have tried to learn from my mistakes and make amends where due. I can ask no more of myself or anyone else for that matter.
No, its not the past.

Is it the human desire?
Us humans are a funny bunch.
We have desires, above and beyond genetically coded instinct.
Yes, we have the instinct to procreate, seek company of others and preserve our life.
But we also have desires, they are a conscious pattern of thoughts that drive us towards pleasure and achievement.  Unlike other living beings we seek pleasure. We are not satisfied with a full stomach and a warm sun to lay under. We constantly think about pleasure, be it looking forward to a nice cup of tea, a new smart phone to play with, driving a fancy car, sex with the wife, going out with friends and drinking. These are all human pleasures that we crave.
I am guilty of desire.
I desire some moderate comfort in my surroundings, my bed, where I sit, what I eat, the company I keep, the intellectual stimulation I get, the knowledge I can learn, the "useful" items I acquire and own that enable me to make life simpler and more productive.
I am guilty of all these desires. I am also guilty of desires that involve physical company, affection, love, sex, the appreciation of someone I love, sharing special moments with them, the unreserved gift of ones self physically for the pleasure and whim of the person you love and for it to be reciprocated.

Personally, I have no shallow desires like new cars or phones, or the latest must have item.
I do however have desires that are not being met. Ones that are intrinsic to my happiness.
I am after all, a human male.

Am I just tired of life?
I am forty six, soon to be forty seven.
I have lived a full and eventful life so far.
If I am lucky I might have another twenty to thirty years left.
Assuming its thirty, the last ten or so might be very sedate due to physical ability.
The first ten will probably be consumed with establishing the new life we have chosen here. So there are ten golden years in the middle, if I'm lucky, that will provide the fulfilling lifestyle that I have always wanted.
If I am not happy now and nothing changes, then I have ten years of unhappy effort and ten years of declining health to suffer, and that's on the assumption that the ten years in the middle will be happy ones. If I am not happy now and nothing changes, why would I assume to suddenly be happy in ten years. I have all the basics of life nailed down now.
If I was to continue in my efforts, it might pay off and it might not, but my remaining two thirds of life wont be happy.
Or, I could just cut my losses now.

It has taken me most of the day to right this and at seven pm my head is still churning with thoughts.



Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The next evolution is near.

Hi avid fans.
No posts for a long time, I know.
It's not easy with my head but I am trying.

After a few trips outdoors with the trusty wife, I have Video footage to post, but as normal since my brain fart, I am having difficulty editing it all and find it hard to write about it. short term memory loss and concentration deficit all stack up against me and I feel the world is conspiring to drive me mad at times.
The frustration is overwhelming, especially when I have in my mind, something to say but can not find the relevant words to convey my thought eloquently.   :-) Yes, It's all still up there and I know what I want to say, but that last sentence took me fifteen minutes to find the words.
Imagine you have a jigsaw puzzle, you have made it several times and studied the picture, in fact you know it quite well. Then someone takes it and puts all the pieces back in the box, gives it a good shake and hands it back to you. You know all the pieces, you know the picture intimately, but finding the farmers left eye, or the ducks right foot amongst the 999 other pieces takes ages.
That's my head. it's all up there, somewhere.

As the main title of this post would suggest.
Something big is going to happen, very soon.
Life has to slow down, I have to simplify the world I live in if I am to keep up with it.
My super, smashing, great, most excellent wife, agrees that we need a change of pace and we need it desperately.
To that end, we have been plotting our escape from the rat race. We have a cunning plan. We have began to drastically change the way we live our lives and we are excited.

Come on,,,,,,I hear you scream, well, you will have to wait for the next instalment to find out what the next evolution is, But, it is very interesting, I promise.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014


Dear Avid fans.

I have done it again it seems.
This time however, I have a good excuse for the long periods between posts.
Since my brain Haemorrhage, I have discovered that I am not quite all present and correct.
Things have become apparent over time, and I now realise that I will never return to the person I once was.
My memory has suffered a bit of a bashing and does not appear to be improving. I have considerable trouble even with the simple tings in life at times and logic is at best, intermittent. Consequently frustration is always near the surface and I find myself withdrawing from social life, instead, choosing to avoid people with the exception of a few close friends and my ever loving wife Karen.

Bugger. I have in the thirty or so minutes since logging on and typing the above text, completely forgotten what I was planning to say here.
A perfect example of my scrambled head.
Anyway, I shall continue to ramble on now that I have got this far.

I also had a heart attack since suffering my brain fart. and although I'm now not sure when it was, I do know it was after.
Stress is a wonderful thing. I also don't really trust myself driving in busy traffic. The DVLA had taken all my driving licences from me after my brain fart, and even though they did return my car licence after some time, I still struggle with multiple choices all at once. I must be a risk on the road, so I wont take that chance with myself and other road users.
This leaves me in a difficult position. I find myself, forgetful, unsociable, unable to travel alone and frustrated with myself all the time.
Yes, yes, I know. I am in relatively good health and should be thankful.

Karen is a star, and takes good care of me. We have bad days as do all couples, but overall, we are a great team and I can never thank her enough for being such a wonderful wife and soul mate.
Considering we spend all our time in each others pockets without a break, I'm amazed we still get on so well.

One thing I have noticed is that the outdoor skills I have learned over the years, have not suffered from my loss of memory or logic processing ability.
I have thought about this for some time and the only explanation I can arrive at is this.
As humans we have been around for several hundred thousand years, evolving all the time and finally arriving where we are today, modern man. during this time we have learned so much about living with nature. This today is called Bushcraft, or primitive skills, and considered a hobby or pass time. But It is an instinctive set of skills, and has been engrained in our minds by the need to survive for eons. Most of what we learn today, from birth to death, is applicable only to modern civilisation.
If you consider for arguments sake that early man, homo erectus, arrived on the scene some two hundred thousand years ago, and that we began to give up the life of hunter gatherers as recently as ten thousand years ago,  we find that our modern skill set as humans is fractional in the time line of man.
Moreover, if we consider that industrial civilisation has only came about in the last few hundred years, we have to concede that, what we think of as important learned skills have only been so for what is comparatively, a single grain of sand on a vast beach stretching for miles.
So, I would assume that if I was to instinctively remember anything, it would be the beach as a whole and the single grain of time that is modern life will be of inconsequence.
I am not saying that we all have the knowledge at the forefront of our minds. Most people have lost the knowledge. But the instinct is still there. I am simply fortunate in that since the late 1970s I have been learning primitive skills. This wakes the long engrained instinct from it's slumber, and when modern working knowledge of our live fails, all that remains are fragments, and that imbedded instinct we have awoken.

In short, I confuse sentences, I struggle with technology and I am forgetful,  but when out in the woods, I know how to light a fire and build a shelter without any thought. The re awoken instinct kicks in and it is as if my hands don't need my brain.

As a result, I long for time in the woods, the one place where I don't feel any different than I did before.
The nearest place of solace for me is about ten miles away and although it might not seem far, I cant drive there. I ask Karen frequently but there is always something more pressing things that seem to take over.
I miss the woods, eating freshly caught fish, rabbit or wild foods picked. Sheltering snuggly in a stricture built by my own hands or warming by a fire.
I miss my good friends Mark and Inga, a short drive away but always so far and so busy.
I long for what pleases me, and I wait patiently for the time when I can use my hands to build a new life.

After three hours of righting this and now the distraction of the telly, my head is fried.
I will continue though. When my brain is rested and silence returns.

Monday, 6 January 2014

2014 starting off with a chilled out attitude

Dear avid fans.

Happy new year to one and all.
I have lots to tell you about the past year but will spill the beans in a separate post.
For now I just want to share a video of the first shoestring adventure this year.

There is not a lot of dialogue and no musical accompaniment to the video, partly due to my current lack of ability in using the video editing suite efficiently and partly due to my loss of "on the spot" eloquence, so please accept my apologies in advance if you find the action and excitement a little low in intensity.

Anyhow, we had a very chilled out day as you will see.
Here is the video, I hope you enjoy it.
Thanks, Jack.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

A Walk to Red Tarn, 2nd February 2013.

Hi Avid fans.

My latest upload is titled "A walk to Red Tarn 2nd Feb 2013" filmed in my home county the Lake District with my trusty friends Mark and Inga, slightly long and perhaps boring in places, but worth watching the part at the Tarn as it was iced up, very windy and freezing cold.
This was filmed back in Feb 2013, a month before my brain haemorrhage so it's by no means new but I have only just got round to finishing the edit.

The trip was kind of unplanned really.
As I remember, we sort of agreed early on in the week to go and do something on the week end but had no real thoughts on where or what it might be.
I had been hankering to have a walk up Hellvellyn  again for some time and so the idea of a trip to the Tarn formed with the sneaky hope that when we arrived at the Tarn the weather would be favourable and the company would still be feeling energetic enough to make it to the top.
After planting the seed with my friends and digging out the relevant laminated section of OS map from the stash that seems to breed from my printer, it was only a matter of selecting some items from my outdoors gear (a large pile of that also seems to breed on its own) and by the week end we were off with a spring in our step.
The walk up was at a steady pace with lots of breaks to take in the scenery, it always seems to have a unique feel to it as the weather is always changing and I can't think of ever making the trip twice with exactly the same conditions.
We arrived at the Tarn to be confronted with a scene of such splendour, a vista beyond my hopes and one that was truly unique as always.
The top of Hellvelyn was shrouded in cloud with mists trailing like tendrils below, ever thinning until the clarity of the frozen Tarn at its base presented itself as we approached.
Striding Edge to the left and Swirral Edge to the right of the summit, fell down to our sides swooping round us with capping's of snow and ice as if to embrace us into the frozen heart of the mountain.
The Tarn's water had frozen solid only to be broken into small bergs by the winds and refrozen multiple times, like the ice floes of the arctic, the waters were a jumble of ice blocks at random angles, broken and yet blended by the still of the Tarn.
The wind blew a razor sharp edge into my exposed flesh and sank deep as I stood transfixed for a moment in awe at the scene before me.
I'm sure I was not alone in the appreciation of what lay before our eyes.
The wind tore at our clothes as we searched for a rock to shelter behind and having chosen a suitably sized one with appropriate orientation to the onslaught, we hunkered down to eat our rations and top up on energy.
My fill consisted of a 500g block of Marzipan, a Snickers that due to the cold seemed as solid as a bar of steel and about half a litre of ice cold water from my old 58patt issue water bottle.
As cold as it was I could have stayed there all day in the biting wind taking it all in.
Indeed, I was a little disappointed that no attempt would be made up Striding Edge to the summit, but sane decisions must always be made in such weather and although I longed to fulfil my secret desire to stand at the familiar trig point at the top, I knew it would be folly to attempt it without an ice axe, crampons, ropes and partners experienced  in such endeavours, not to mention the list of other equipment sat at home that should be included for such an attempt in these conditions.
Sanity kept my feet firmly on the ground and after taking some photos we turned and started the walk down, I never mentioned my secret desire.
The descent as always seemed to pass faster then the trip up and as always my knees waited for this point in the trip to play up, heating up like the radiators in a lottery winning pensioners house and with every jarring step a hot poker stabbed through them, but turning off the pain in my mind we talked and joked most of the way in high spirits.
Mark true to form decided to do a close inspection of the path just before reaching the road "he does all his own stunts" and as is the rule, both myself and Inga just took the piss out of him.

Both Mark and Inga did well considering the conditions and terrain and are great friends.

I'm sure they both enjoyed our day as much as I did and I hope you enjoy watching the video of it too, thanks.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A day in the woods with Karen.

Hi Avid Fans.
A short video taken a while back on a walk in the woods with Karen.
Nothing exciting, just taking in natural surroundings and "Tuning in"
It was a very relaxing day and Karen got to use her new fire steel and learnt to light a fire with it using cotton wool and Vaseline.
The simple things in life are often the best.


Avid Fans.
A picture that speaks a thousand words. Two Army Veterans plead with the awe inspiring man. This is a Gurkha Veteran currently on hunger strike opposite Downing St. When this picture was taken last night it was day 12. As you can see he doe...s not look well. We cant allow this great man to die so we need to get this story out there. All they want is equal pensions so they can look after their families. Thats the least we owe them as they have fought for our country alongside our Forces for 200 years. Shame on the Government for ignoring these loyal Gurkhas. Please share this picture everywhere you can think of and lets get these fantastic lads what they deserve.
Thank you.

What our Idiot government don't seam to grasp is that this guy will hunger strike with the same absolute determination that he served our country with when he soldiered for it and unless they do something and resolve this he will give his life for the cause just like he would have given his life for this country. Our government should be ashamed of themselves. I served for my country and my mates, not the government. They are all spineless self serving wankers and I despise the lot of them.

Friday, 18 October 2013

RESET POINT. "a new begining"

Dear Avid fans.

Firstly, yes I'm still here.
I have not fallen into a black hole or lost interest in this Blog or even been abducted by Aliens.

A lot has happened in my life recently and I now find my world kind of standing on it's head compared to my life previously.
This is not intended as an excuse for not posting in such a long time. And I do apologise for the long absence. However, life has a way of turning your best laid plans to shit at times doesn't it.

Prior to March 2013, I had lots of plans and ideas for this Blog. There was such a lot of stuff I wanted to put on here but life being what it is, I always had other things that held priority for my time. Things like work, personal admin regarding bills and paperwork, keeping up with chores and at the same time fitting in a little leisure time on the hills, forests or in the canoe.
So Blogging was at the bottom of my pile if things to do, even more than having fun outdoors.

Work hard, long hours, tasks, chores, keep up with life, fit it in, squeeze it in, make time from out of nowhere for so much.......

March 17th 2013. Brain haemorrhage. All engines full stop.

I was Very fortunate that it was a Sunday afternoon at home when I blew my head gasket.
Had I been on an outdoor adventure or at work I would not be here writing this now. I would have been on my own in my lorry or up a fell side or in the middle of a lake without any help and in no condition to call for my own emergency assistance.
Fortunately I was at home with Karen "an ex nurse" She called the ambulance and got me to hospital. I was immediately sent from our local hospital across the country to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary who specialise in head gasket failures and was operated on the very same day.
Yes that's right, brain surgery, full on messing about with the jelly up top.

The result is, I am alive and kicking. Thank you so much Karen for your fast reactions, and thank you to the RVI for fixing my little problem.
I'm told its down to Karen's quick response that I'm here today and for that I can never thank her enough.

OK, so the result is that I now cant think or do things the way I could before. This is a good point to explain that I may repeat myself on here, fail to explain things the way I could before, loose the thread of what I'm writing, get things arse backwards and generally come across with less clarity and eloquence than before. Hmm thank fuck for spell check eh!

I can no longer work and I need 24/7 supervision apparently, but Karen is now my carer and has taken over running life in general for me so again thank you Karen.
They tell me I will improve with time and Visits with the specialists helping me "cant thing what you call them at the moment" And the bottom line is It's all new to me "especially as I have short term memory loss" so give me a break when I screw this up lol.

I'm lucky, lets face it.
I now as a result of all of this see the world in a way slightly different than before.
I'm not just talking about the effects of the condition but in the way I evaluate the world I'm in on a philosophical level.

My plans are to get better where possible and adapt where not. I also find now I have lots of time on my hands. OK, so money is very tight and I also cant just go off adventuring without someone to hold my hand but what I can do is re evaluate my life and focus on what I can do. So here I am. Direction once again, I'm just not sure where it leads ha ha.

I will from now on be posting the stuff that's on my mind. I would like to start the post thread I was planning about wilderness skills and outdoor skills but at the moment its maybe prudent to avoid topics that have serious consequences if I get messed up explaining things. I can however share my views on life and the things I think are important.
I just hope I don't bore the arse off you in the process.

First topic. Man is not invincible and we should all learn to expect the unexpected.
I have always thought this way but sometimes its easy to veer of and forget. Well now my thoughts on this have been realised it has served to crystallise this opinion.
We all need to plan for the future, even the least expected future, just encase.
Yea yea, I hear you. It will never happen to you, maybe on the telly or people you know but never you.
Well I got news, It can happen to you so you better get used to the possibility and toy with the idea of what if. Just encase.

I'm not talking about a brain fart like mine "but its possible" I'm talking about the hundreds if not thousands of other things that could go wrong.
I'm not talking doom and gloom here, after all we have insurance for our cars, house contents, holidays we take and even insure for fire and theft. That dose not mean we are hoping or dwelling on what if's, we are just being practical and responsible adults in accepting that things can and do go wrong in life. So why not contemplate other things that can go wrong.

OK, I was not expecting a brain fart and to be honest I never even put it in the what if box. But that's besides the point.
What I'm suggesting you do is this.
Take a moment with out distractions and without bias opinion, to contemplate what you really need from life to survive and be happy. I'm not talking about like, want, desire or consumerism driven need but real need. what do you really need.

I will leave that thought with you for now and talk a little more when you have pondered it.

So, to recap, lots of things have changed including the future.
I'm still here.
I still intend to Blog about my interests, but I will expand the subject matter and re prioritise postings due to recent events in my life.
I don't expect or want sympathy, but a little patience with my current abilities would be greatly appreciated.
Again I want to thank Karen for saving my life.
Actually Just to prove what an absolute diamond Karen is she not only got me through it and stabilised "a point where most people would walk away from the burden of life care" she also stuck by me and continues to do so.
Karen is one of life's few rare people that you know you can depend on. I solid rock in the storm of life and one of the true friends I can count on one hand.
And as of last week she is also my wife, committed to us.

Have I lost the thread of this blog yet lol.
Time to sign off I think.
Back soon, regards Jack.

PS you may think there is nothing wrong with my writing and therefor I'm just being thick.
But what would have taken me ten minutes to write before now takes me hours to construct and correct, re-phrase and try and present in a intelligible Blog.
I hope your not to picky and can still put up with me.

Ta ta :)  

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

There Is Only Bushcraft...And Bacon...And Axes...And Coffee...Ok I'm Done.

Dear Avid Fans.

I thought I would share this video with you. It's seldom you find such purity on youtube these days.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year 2013

Hi Avid fans, and a happy new year to you all.

2012 has been quite an eventful year for me in so many ways.
It started with the usual mundane work at Jewsons, long trailing days devoid of customers, my trusty friend mark to keep me sane and the infamous manager from hell to give us all something to marvel at as we spent our days in awe at the skill with which he demonstrated his total lack of business, management, customer care, administration and people skills.

On the home front, my Jollys with Mark were few and far between, money was tight and life was lived on a day to day basis. So all in all it wasn't an amazing start.

Things were to change as the year progressed. Our illustrious leader continued to dig himself an ever deeper hole while somehow managing to avoid falling into it "the one thing hes good at is bullshitting his way through life". Myself and Mark started training for the Keswick to Barrow 40 mile challenge, so most weekends were filled with walking again all be it on tarmac, a fact that proved unfavourable for my shagged knees, but it was necessary as the majority of the K2B is on tarmac and so we needed to accustom our feet to the unforgiving surface they were to endure.


The K2B date arrived and myself and mark both completed it with times we were both happy with and he proved once again he is a mate to be proud of, I myself don't actually remember the end with much clarity as I floated over the finish line on a cocktail of Ibuprofen Cocodamol and Paracetamol in copious amounts due to the excruciating pain in my right knee with the left almost as bad. 40 miles of tarmac in 13 hours of non stop pain.

Eventually the exploits of our leader from hell became to much to ignore and after after a heated discussion with sed tosser I found myself suspended on full pay pending an investigation as it was alleged that I had used threatening behaviour. Well if you call having a stand up row with your boss threatening behaviour then guilty as charged, but I wont be called a liar in front of customers to cover up his inability to do his job.
After an enquiry involving the top brass I was told things would be looked at very closely in future and changes would be made but they could no longer employ me as threatening behaviour constitutes gross misconduct. And I thought we were all big boys in the building trade, able to have a row and get on with our jobs!!!!
And so I walked out of the meeting no longer an employee of Jewsons. 14 hours later I started work at my new job, a considerable pay increase and no Saturday hours. Thanks Ian.

Once again life threw a spanner in the works "like is does" and with a little malicious help I found myself arrested and sleeping in a nice cell, only to be promptly released the following day. The good old boys in blue also saw fit to seize all my guns, but after three or four months of scrutinising serial numbers and documentation they were all returned to my door by two nice policemen in a police van with no action to be taken. Its nice being squeaky clean isn't it.

Some outdoor adventures were undertaken and at some stage I may even share the photos but for now this is all you get.

And here we are December 31st is soon a thing of the past.
My finances are in order. I work a 50 to 60 hour week but my weekends are free and I have some money in my pocket.
After having experienced some ups and downs I find myself free of legal issues and indeed the good old boys in blue are taking action by way of the "Malicious communications act" to prevent me experiencing any further problems from a certain person or persons.

2013 looms and I look forward to having the time to not only go on more adventures but to also start documenting them on here along with several new blog threads accompanied by video blogs.

Work is good.
Life is good.
I may have only a few friends, but that's by choice. And what good friends they are.

Happy New Year my friends and avid fans.
Jack x

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

It has been a very long time

Hello blog. After a long long time of absence on here, nearly a year I think, I am back in the hot seat and planning to get typing. So much has happened over the last eleven or twelve months and I seam to have had so little time to do the things I wanted to and life always gets in the way of the things you plan to do. Well, I'm going to pick up where I left off and continue on my mission. Avid fans prepare to be board to tears with tales of adventure and lectured to death on the subject of the great outdoors and all related skills.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Birkhouse moor.

Hi avid fans.

Firstly I would like to introduce my intrepid partner in crime, Mark.

As a work colleague we get to spend a lot of time together and for some unknown reason we also tend to spend time on weekends in each others company too.
Perhaps its the similar sense of humour we share or the fact that one kind of knows what the other is on about and every one else has a look of confusion as we talk drivel. Whatever it is, we enjoy each others company and so have developed a walking partnership that works well and I have actually come to quite like him in the past few months!
And no, we are not talking broke back mountain here OK!

Lets go back to late August and the lead up to our first walk together.
Mark had decided after a very long break form Fell walking that he wanted to get back into it.
Having been a regular walker when he moved to Cumbria years ago he knew the score but was out of practice and to cut a long story short we arranged to do some walking together. I was quite comfortable with this idea as Mark is someone I like, trust and respect, so the first trip was eventually set for September the tenth.

Well the famous saying "No plan survives the first contact intact" proved to be true but we soon came up with plan B and still had a good day out as you will see.

Saturday September tenth, Mark turned up at my house 8.30AM as planed and we set off down the road heading for Glenridding pier on Ullswater.
The idea was to take the steamer from Glenridding to Howtown and walk back to Glenridding via the footpath that follows the East shore of Ullswater.
We arrived nice and early for the first sailing but it was blowing a bit despite the sunshine and as we walked from the car down to the pier the possibility of sailings being canceled due to wind did enter the conversation, the tickets were duly sold to us at the pier though and we waited to board our vessel.
A few minutes later and surprise surprise! we were told, all sailings canceled due to wind.

We got our refunds and trooped out of the pier kiosk with a bunch of other people all discussing what they might do instead.
I look up to the West assessing the sky for what it might bring weather wise and Birkhouse moor is staring back down at me from the distance. The light bulb above my head flickers a little and then bursts into life.
I have a cunning plan and share it with Mark who is up for it immediately, well OK after giving it a little thought maybe.
We would walk up to the top of Helvellyn or as near to it as prudent considering the lack of preparation and the weather, so off we went on our new mission.

We headed up Greenside road leaving Marks camera in the car as we passed it, Mark not having a waterproof camera bag for it, we were only experiencing intermittent showers at this point but the sky looked like it had lots more in store for us.
The road gets narrower as you go up the hill and eventually turns into a track then a path and our first photo opportunity with my camera.

We turn right and head up the right hand side of Birkhouse moor crags and stop to watch the marshal of a trials bike event standing solitary in the bracken like a unloved scarecrow dripping with rain, no bikes are to be seen on the stage but we can hear them in the distance and every now an then we catch a glimpse of a lone bike far off to the south.
We press on as the rain starts to kick in at full pelt now.

Sheffield pike looms to our right and Birkhouse moor to our left as we follow the path up to the bridge opposite the disused mine and take a pause to photograph the torrent of water coming down the Gill fed by red tarn beck, brown cove beck and keppel cove beck.

Our walk continues round towards Glenridding common and follows red tarn beck to a height of about one thousand feet (Always sounds more impressive in feet don't it!) and we make a joint decision to turn back.

No we are not doing our best impression of a big girls blouse!!!!!
Rather we are being responsible adults making a sensible choice not to make an arse of ourselves by ending up catching a ride home in a big helicopter.
The wind is blowing quite hard further up and the rain is coming down sideways at times, and seeing as mark is wearing jeans and I am relying on my now very wet Buffalo six shirt to keep warm we make a mature decision and do a one eighty.
The visibility further up is looking less and less promising anyway and so we make our way back pleased with the days events considering it's not the low level walk we had planed or prepared for.

On the way down the conversation takes as many twists and turns as the path we are walking on, we stop and see the marshal still soaking but now observing the trial section, and we marvel at the skill of the riders as they tackle obstacles with finesse and grace akin to a butterfly visiting flowers in a glade. OK so I'm taking the piss now, sorry.

Eventually we make it back to Glenridding an decide to invade the cafe for a cup of coffee and a bit of cake.
The lady that serves us doesn't even blink when we walk in dripping wet and plonk ourselves down with a squelch. The cake is Divine and the coffee goes down well too.
A bit pricey but hey ho this is the lake district isn't it.
We soon say our thanks and squelch back out of the door leaving puddles on the (fortunately) wooden chairs.

On the drive home we decide it was a good day out regardless of the canceled sailing and the subsequent change of plan, the weather or the prices in the cafe and next week end will be just as good.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Windermere Canoe and wild camp

Dear avid fans.
Wind the clocks back to the seventh of may two thousand eleven.

It's Friday night and I'm wondering what to do for the week end.
A plan starts to evolve in my head, a quick Reccy of the area on google maps sat images and a decision is made.

Bed time follows and a good sleep is broken by the sun shining in the window, it's morning and it's action stations.

Some gear is sorted through and sat by the door. Breakfast is eaten and the gear by the door is put in the Raingy followed by the Canoe being strapped to the roof.
Everything is ready to go by lunchtime, and we set off after eating something.
On the way down to Windermere it dawns on me that we could have been there and on the water by now if we had rushed this morning but that's not the point of having a relaxing weekend is it. I can rush and multitask when the situation requires and I do it with efficiency and in an organised manner but given the option I will always choose the slow relaxed methodical approach.

We get to Newby Bridge at the south end of the lake by mid afternoon, crossing river Leven fed from the lake to the Colonnade and turning left I found the parking spot I had done the Reccy on the night before using sat images, the parking spot is little more than a bit of verge that's hard packed dirt and gravel but large enough to take two or three cars, only one other vehicle is parked there so we managed to park within a few feet of the launching point.
The canoe is taken off the roof and ported all of ten feet between some bushes to a part of river bank with a shallow bottom edged by rocks, perfect for loading and launching the 15' Canadian canoe.

After stowing all the necessary gear for an overnight canoe trip the Raingy is locked and we push off from the bank turning left into the gentle current.
We soon find a natural rhythm to paddle to with Karen sitting up front and myself in the rear with our gear stowed in the centre.
Karen gets the Feeling of being a solitary pioneer on some quest up the Youkon river, while I get to do the bulk of the paddling, steering and keeping an eye on our gear. Its all stowed really well, some of it attached by leash and some stored in orange water tight dry bags.

We paddle up stream past the marina and eventually into the south end of Windermere.
The lake opens up in front of us and as we pass the various moored sailing craft the current we have been paddling against slowly fades away till we are cruising north through open water with ease and there is just the sound of lapping water on the hull for company.

We pass silent along the west shore for a while then cross over to the east side and away from the many yachts and jetty's, the shore line here is void of evidence that this is the most used lake in Cumbria.

The light begins to fade eventually and we look for a place to land that's not private and not going to leave us standing out like sore thumbs when we set up camp for the night.

This sounds easy but in fact its quite important to chose the right spot, most if not all the shoreline of Windermere is private land as far as I know, so choosing somewhere that's not likely to cause a incident on the 9 o'clock news and involve meeting the local constabulary takes some very careful consideration.
Eventually we pull into a small bay back on the west side about half way up the lake that's shielded from sight north and south, it has nothing on the opposite shore in sight and seams far enough from any roads tracks and sign of life on our side to be of any problem so after a quick reccy of the area inland I unpack the canoe and port it up through the trees to the chosen wild camp, once the canoe and all the gear is moved up I walk down to the waters edge and check we cant be seen from the lake.
Success, we are totally invisible from all sides and unless someone comes crawling through the bushes or lands on our little beach we will remain undetected.

First things first, I set up the tent, its a Vango Banshee 200, that means its a two man but cosy and more suited for solo use, if you are just sleeping in it you would be OK with two people squeezed into it but realistically if your planning to cook and brew up under shelter you really need a basha to go with it. So up goes the canoe tarp, its just a over size basha in a bright colour. It's strung up with some floating tow line from the canoe used as a ridge line and eight lengths of nylon cord used as guy ropes. All very basic using trees and rocks to tie up to, even dead fall branches of about the right size can be used to fashion poles and pegs if there is nothing to tie to making it a free standing affair and very adaptable.

With the canoe tarp up there is plenty of room under cover to move round.
I fill the kelly up with lake water and start to gather dead wood for it so we can brew up. NO!!!!!!! I hear you scream you cant drink lake water, well yes you can if you boil it well. So ner ne ner ne ner ner. I even strain the chunks off using a bit of women's tights so there is no floaty bits or grittiness. The Kelly is a storm kettle that boils water using dried leafs twigs and other debris found laying about.
Its not really suitable for backpacking but canoe trips allow more bulky gear to be stowed like the Kelly so it really comes into its own on trips like this one.
A Kelly will boil a couple of pints in as many minutes and regardless of wind and rain it will always work as long as you can get it lit in the first place, it can also be used as a stove for boiling food frying and grilling when the kettle is taken off the base and the pot fry pan or grill put on it.
I have even made toast on it successfully.

The rain starts and soon it's hammering down into the darkness.
Karen is by now in my sleeping bag under the tarp watching me buggering about and its not long before she has fallen asleep. I soon follow and sleep under the tarp next to her having decided not to wake her or sleep in the tent on my own in case she wakes and cant find me, so the tent was unused all night.
Boy did the rain come down and the sky was lit with a lightning storm straight from a hammer horror movie, but we stayed dry and warm and eventually I fell asleep.

The Dawn brought a cool dampness that had sank into my bones during the night as I hadn't had the luxury of a sleeping bag, just a liner. Karen was still fast asleep but I needed to warm up so started moving about busying with the kelly to generate some body heat.

I had collected enough fuel the night before to supply the Kelly this morning as well but after the downpour it was all soaked. More needed collecting but with everything being wet it was tricky. I found some standing dead wood and having pealed off the outer layer of wet bark found it to be dry inside, I also borrowed (It will grow back) some Birch bark. About six inch of birch bark taken from a tree will not hurt it if its a healthy tree, it will eventually grow back as if never having been striped. The bark makes excellent tinder when the inner face is scraped with a knife to make fine shavings and takes a spark well, the dry dead wood is broken or chopped into small pieces varying from thumb thickness to the size of a pencil and smaller twiglets to start them off.
This gives enough varying grades of fuel for lighting the Kelly, once lit you can pretty much put anything down the chimney to fuel it as long as it's combustible, will fit and is not ringing wet.
Top cheat with a kelly, if everything is wet get the driest tinder you can find and light with the help of some Zippo lighter fluid.

After brewing up I was feeling much more thawed, I woke Karen with a brew and we chatted about the storm we had during the night. After the usual morning routine and multiple hot brews it was time to strike camp.
The tent was taken down and all the gear was repacked into the dry bags and containers. I ported the canoe back down to the water and loaded it up, then had a final check of our wild camp area. Not a trace of our having camped there was evident apart from one six inch square of naked birch tree.

We pushed off and for the rest of the day we explored the lake and all its beauty.
The sun was out in force and it was very relaxing to glide along the mirror top lake.

Even the swans didn't seam to be fussed at us drifting by in silence.

Eventually we headed back to the Leven river and our landing spot by the Raingy.
It was still hot by the time we had the canoe back on the roof and our gear in the boot so we had a drink in the hotel on the Colonnade by the riverside before driving home taking the scenic route.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

A Typical day out with the Canoe.

Hi avid fans.

Its about time I caught up with this blogging lark so here's an example of a typical day out with the canoe.

The date, 24th April 2011.
Location, Ullswater.

Usually for a weekend afternoons adventure with my Canadian canoe nothing is planed.
Its just a case of looking out of the window in the morning and deciding its nice weather for a paddle. Very technical eh!

On deciding to go and play the canoe gets strapped to the roof of the Range Rover, A flask and some grub gets thrown together, food's put in the water tight barrel with the screw lid and the usual first aid kit, paddles, float coats, throw line, picnic blanket and change of clothes is thrown in the boot.
Also there is the yellow waterproof box containing stuff like a compass, mobile phone, roll ups and other oddments.

The drive to Ullswater takes about forty minutes. Once there, I look for a suitable parking spot in one of the many lakeside laybys.
The canoe gets ported down to the water through the trees and left by the waters edge while the other bits get brought down, then its just a case of locking the doors, stepping into the canoe and shoving off.

No particular plan is followed, its more fun just following your nose on days like this.

After paddling along for a while exploring the lake shore a suitable spot for a picnic is chosen, and usually followed by a chill out in the sun.
There are lots of small bays and beaches along the shores of Ullswater, quite a few of them are inaccessible except from the water so finding a secluded spot is much easier with a canoe.

Sometimes its simply a case of staying in the canoe while floating in the middle of the lake or tying up to a rocky outcrop with almost sheer rock along side.
It all depends on the mood really.

Paddling along and taking in the scenery surrounding Ullswater will never bore me, its my favourite lake and I now know it quite well.
There are also some small islands at the south end of the lake and although quite small and barren, still worth taking a look at.

Paddling back to where the Raingy is parked always seams to come far to soon but at least its not long before the next day off comes around and living so close to this beautiful lake is a real treat I will always appreciate.

An hour later its canoe off the roof, washing in the machine, hot shower and see whats on telly.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Something to look forward to.

Hi avid fans.

Just thought I would comment on this coming winter, I think we might be in for another hard one up here.
All good as far as I'm concerned, last winter temp's were in the -20s some parts of Cumbria, with lots of snow.
This one will be much the same I recon, I feel it in my bones.
So, I'm already looking at my snow boots and crampons, gonna run my cold weather gear through the wash and sharpen up the ice axe.

Snow holes, Arctic sleeping bag and snow baths here I come.

Sunday, 24 July 2011


Hi avid fans.

I must apologise for not posting for such a long time.

Starting a new life up here in Cumbria has been hard and has taken a lot of my time up, but now I'm finding a balance finally.
Having restructured my priority's and commitments now that I am established up here, I can now find the time to do the things I enjoy and one of them is posting on my blog.

My web site is one of the trimmed off items, but I'm planning to incorporate some of the content on here so although it may be gone its content will not be lost.

The music player I had running on here has been trimmed off too as it was a pain to keep updating and to be honest I doubt if you liked my choice of music anyway.

So, the future holds some kit reviews as previously planned along with regular posts on my outdoor forays. more photos an video. And at some stage I will be posting a thread on something I'm sure will drop some jaws,,,,,,,

All in all life is sorted and I'm back on the Blog so keep your eyes pealed.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Always remembered

To my brothers in arms, Steve, Paul, Frank, Jimmy, and Rob.
Your not forgotten my friends, rest in peace.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

News, Kit revews.

Hi avid fans.

I have been wondering for a while now If it would interest any of you out there If were to do Kit revues about some of the things I use on my jollys.

After some deliberation on the matter, I think It could be fun for me, and interesting for the readers out there.

The plan, like all plans might not survive first contact but, I'm planning to slip the revues in between other blogs and structure the order in a way that will make sense, even if only to myself.

Over the years I have bought, borrowed, and used tons of Kit in the outdoors, both as a civilian and a soldier .
Some of it good, some of it bad, and some as much use as a chocolate fire guard.
Perhaps by doing revues on Kit that I know works, I can save someone the stress and frustration I have had by sharing my knowledge and the pros and cons of different types of kit and there uses.
I hope so anyway.

If anyone out there has any requests on the kit seen or described on this blog just let me know by comment and I will do my best to revue the item as soon as I can.

Thanks and I hope you enjoy them, Jack.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Average British Soldier

Avid fans.

I had to post this video on my blog.
Its a touching video, it found the place in my heart where my real mates are.
Some still here, some gone, but never forgotten.
Its funny, when you find something in life that your good at, you always gravitate back to it. Even to the detriment of your mental health.
Be it taking the Queens shilling or as a private contractor.

One thing though, no matter how many videos like this are made, if your a Civvy you will never truly understand.

Thank you.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Red Tarn wild camp

Hi avid fans.
Again sorry for the long delay in posts but its so good being in Cumbria, I find there's so much more to do than write blogs, but I will make a concerted effort to write more about my jollys in the fresh Cumbrian air from now on.

Friday, July 23rd, early afternoon, at home.
Karen was wondering what we were going to do for the week end, I had a real fast think and before you could say (jolly) we were chucking things in the motor and heading down the road.

We arrived at Glenridding's Gillside camp site early evening an set up the tent.
The plan was to set off in the morning for Red Tarn at the foot of Helvellyn and camp over night at the Tarn, If the weather held we would do Striding edge on the way up to the top of Helvellyn and Swirral edge on the way down to the tarn, If it didn't then we would just camp an chill.

Saturday, July 24th, mid morning, we set off at a leisurely pace, taking our time to chat to the sheep and each other while enjoying the scenery. It soon became apparent that the weather was not going to play ball and it got quite damp as the cloud base fell around us and blotted out the sun light, the wind picked up and it rained horizontally for a while but by late afternoon it was a tranquil soup of white that wrapped us like a cloak.

We decided that the summit of Helvellyn would bless us with a view of our hands in front of our faces at best so Pitching at the Tarn it was.
The tent went up lickety split and we got in and brewed up, then pondered what to do next.
It was a easy decision, we got our sleeping bags out.

I woke and it was dark, very still, and I was hungry.
I woke Karen and we sat in the silence for a moment, still like the back side of the moon with a dark shroud of cloud all around us, My stomach growled again, we needed to eat.
I made a pasta stroganof ala corned beef special and we sat an ate our fill contented with our canvas home in the hills.
A few gallons of Tea later and we went to sleep again, and sleep we did, like the dead until about ten am the next morning.

Sunday, July 25th, Mid morning again, The cloud sat low over the Tarn like a blanket and we broke camp.

After checking we had left no trace of our stay we had or final fag before setting off down from our nest in the clouds.

The walk down was quite pleasant and as the meters of descent fell away so the temperature went up, the sun showed its warm smile and we started to shed some layers.
Karen found her knees were playing up a bit with the weight she was carrying even though I had the bulk of the load (about 70kgs on my back) so next time I will carry her as well and we should then be fine.

Eventually we arrived back at the camp site where we started our jolly from, and as we took off our boots with a sigh of relief we were (or I was) looking forward to our next micro adventure.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Ullswater camp and canoe.

Hi avid fans,

I have finally allowed myself some leisure time.
I have been chomping at the bit to get out an have fun since moving up here and on Sunday morning the time came.

It was a bright and sunny 7.15am, and with no plans for the day Karen suggested we go canoeing.
Music to my ears I thought to myself, so a plan was set in motion.
A coffee and a fag later saw me slinging stuff in the back of the motor and strapping the canoe to the roof (at a leisurely pace) while Karen made some sandwiches.

By about mid day we were on our way and after taking the scenic route we arrived in Patterdale about 2pm.
The campsite of choice was Side farm, its situated on the south east shore of Ullswater surrounded mountains and just north of Kirkstone pass.
We pulled on and paid our £14.00 for the night, it sounds a bit expensive as campsites go but this is the summer season in the Lake district and the location just cant be beaten. There were quite a few tents on but spread about as the weekend campers were leaving and we decided to go for a paddle before putting the tent up.
That would mean we would have more choice of pitch later and as it turned out it was a good decision as we got a prime spot when we did.

We had some sandwiches and then I took the canoe off the roof.
Its a fifteen foot Canadian canoe made by Coleman. The model is quite an old one and is lacking the built in cup holders and cool box that seem to be the norm on the newer models, it has lots of scrapes and scratches to the hull, but it paddles well and I'm not really into all the mod cons and keeping up with the latest trends so its a good boat as far as I'm concerned.

I ported it down to the waters edge through the trees which was about ten meters from where we had parked, Karen brought the paddles, float coats and the bag with our bits in it down behind me and we pushed off heading up the lake.

It took a few minutes to get sorted and into a rhythm, and then it was just sunshine and silence as we slid through the water heading north contouring the eastern shore.

On the west side of Ullswater runs the A592 from Glenridding to Poolybridge and it sees a fair amount of traffic in the summer, it also has lots of layby's and the tourists tend to park up and sit on the lake shore. But that's on the west side and we were on the east side so the traffic and the tourists were just silent dots in the distance.
We paddled on at a leisurely pace stopping now and again to look at things along the shoreline and just generally bugger about, Some of the shoreline is gravel beach but mostly its steep and rocky with dense foliage and in some parts its cliffs and there is lots of little coves to explore so the scenery is never boring on this side of the lake.

We went up about 6K and stopped about parallel with the small village of Sandwick on the east shore. The spot we chose was very quiet and secluded, we opened a bottle of red wine and soaked up the sun in our little private cove, and the world was a good place to be.

We set off back to the campsite after a while and the paddle back was just as good and the last few Ks Karen sat and chilled while I did the paddling on my own.
When we got back to the camp site it was evening but still daylight and I set about putting up the tent.
The chosen spot was on the tree line and had a fine view overlooking the lake through the trees.

Once the tent was up and our sleeping bags were laid out I made us a hot brew and then set about supper and made some thick soup using the Kelly kettle.
The Kelly is a magic bit of kit and burns anything and everything, just about anything you can find lying about that's combustible will boil a litre of water in two minutes using its water jacket design, and when cooking you just lift the kettle off the base and put a mess tin on it.

We crawled into the tent at about 11pm and after sitting watching the moons reflection on the water framed by the trees we went into a peaceful sleep. Until we were woken up by a badger two hours later!

We got up late'ish Monday morning and had toasted crumpets with syrup and coffee, then after packing everything up, we drove the scenic route home.

Perhaps not the adventure of a lifetime but not bad for an unplanned trip and it was fun.
There will be lots more to come and they will be a little more interesting I'm sure as I'm planning a Canoe/wild camp soon.
But this was a good start.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The dreams that haunt

It's just another bad nights sleep.
Another recurring dream keeping me from forgetting the things I wish I could.
To understand this one you have to know the events leading up to it.
Maybe it wont make sense but here goes anyway.
I'd been wondering what to do when I left the army and a friend of mine told me to go see a guy in Manchester. I went and was offered a job working for a security firm specialising in protection for company's and organisations working in high risk locations. Every now and then I would get a call asking if I wanted a few weeks work, kind of like being a temp but with much better pay and I took the job.
I'd ended up working all over on for several different companies on this basis including west Africa, east Africa, the middle east, eastern Europe and south America. It was a way to make really good money doing something I enjoyed and knew I did well.
The periods between this work were filled with the mundane day to day life back in England and as far as everyone else was concerned I was just a normal bloke with a seasonal job that went absent from time to time.
But I longed for the phone calls and the adventure they would bring. I missed being sparked up and the rush of adrenalin when I was at home, I was frequently in a bad mood due to this and was only really happy on one of my outdoors adventures or when I was "away" working.
Things changed a bit one September when I was stood in the Colombian jungle having done a CTR that had went loud and I was facing a scruffy flip-flop with an AK, I'd just given his mates the good news with a few short bursts and was about to brass him up with my XM177 on auto when I herd the dead mans click. Its the sound you never want to hear, its the sound that tells you you miscounted your rounds and the hammers fallen on a empty chamber. Not something that should happen with an XM177 as the bolt should lock back on an empty mag but these were very old weapons dating from the Vietnam era sourced from some guy in Bogota taking backhanders from the Colombian government, the firm that I was there with and the US operators that weren't officially there either.
I yell "magazine" to let my mate Steve know I was out of rounds and changing mags, but I had miscounted rounds and he was still in the retreat part of our pairs fire manoeuvre as we wer trying to brake contact. I changed mag slick as shit and was cycling the bolt when I herd Steve open up behind me and the flip flop open up in front of me.
Then I felt myself lifting off my feet and landing on my back, I stared up at the canopy of the rain forest and wondered where I was. then I felt the searing pain in my chest and realised I was not able to breathe.
I herd Steve screaming at me as I fought for breath and as the mist of my confusion cleared I realised he was dragging me through the bush by the drag loop on my load vest and it was only cracked ribs and not holes in me that were killing so much.
Thank fuck for body armour and Teflon plates, three AK rounds had hit me squarely in the chest.
Steve got me out of the bush on his own and sorted a private clinic in Bogota for me.
We spent a few weeks letting the dust settle as the company we wer working for decided we didn't exist and we couldn't fly anyway as all flights wer grounded due to the 9/11 attack on the world trade centre.
Neither me or Steve ever worked for that firm again but i did work with Steve several times after that.
The last time we worked together was the last time i did that kind of work.

This is my dream and perhaps it will make sense now.
It was just another job for me and my mate Steve, we knew and trusted each other well and could work as well oiled machine together in the most fluid of situations without passing a word.
It was another CTR, this time in the Balkans, we both knew the consequences of things going tits up on this particular job as we wer on our own from drop off to pick up but it was paying well and we had both operated in the Balkans before, so we felt comfortable taking on the job.
All was going well until we started swapping lead with a patrol on the exfil.
After a very long exchange We wer pairs fire and about to brake contact when Steve dropped like a sack of shit and didn't move. I called to him but got no reply and increased the weight of fire I was putting down regardless of my ammo state while I moved to his position.
He was in a bad way, one of the rounds he had took was in the belly.
I had spent all my rounds and was using Steve's last mag in our defence when number five of the six man patrol went down, the last guy decided he wasn't playing on his own and legged it just as I ran out of ammo. Then I saw Steve had taken another hit and was loosing blood rapidly from the femoral artery, I started putting field dressings on but he reached out and stoped me.
At first I didn't understand, then when I bent closer I herd his words faint and week.
"they will be back, Go while you can". I told him to shut up and not to be so stupid but he griped my hand even tighter and sed "You and I both know you can get out if you go now, but I'm going nowhere". He was an experienced soldier and he knew he had no chance of surviving his injuries, if I tried to Carry him I would be carrying a dead man and probably get caught in the process, The guy that had leged it would soon return with more mates and we wer both out of rounds. We could hear voices shouting in the distance now and we both knew if I left on my own now I could slip into the night and ex filtrate to the pick up point 25 kilometers away. He looked me in the eyes and sed with a smile "fuck of Jack", The tears started to roll down my cheeks, I knew he was right but I couldn't leave him. Then he slapt me round the head with little more than a week pat and sed "don't be a silly cunt, just go", I said "OK" got to my feet and slipped off into the dark.
I still hear his voice telling me to go and I know Steve had maybe a minute left if that, but the choice I made not to stay with him is hard to live with.
Steve dragged me out of the rain forest at great risk to himself and was a very good friend, and I left him dying alone in a cold wet dark field in kosovo.